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Callaghan Innovation alumni first NZ business accepted into leading US tech accelerator

Drones have been one of the most exciting forms of technology to hit the market in modern times, with everyone from Domino’s Pizza to real estate agents embracing their technology.

However, now that this tech has made it into the mainstream, noise reduction and audio enablement technology company Dotterel reckons the next big hurdle the drone industry has to overcome is the noise created by drones’ propellers.

Noise becomes a key issue when the tech is operated around people, animals or in a commercial setting. 

Dotterel was born out of the Callaghan C-Prize in 2015 when those in the cinematography industry issued a challenge to participants to develop solutions for issues to do with UAVs.

Founded by three brothers, it uses lightweight propeller shrouds and sound-absorbing acoustic materials to reduce noise pollution and enhance audio, like it’s being experienced from the ground. It doesn’t manufacturer drones itself, but rather licenses the tech to manufacturers.

The company won the NewsShooter Most Innovative Product Award at the National Association of Broadcasters Show 2016 in Las Vegas. This year, it has been selected to be a part of Techstars’ first Asia-Pacific programme, which will be held in Adelaide from July.

Techstars is one of the world’s leading technology accelerators, connecting companies to global business heavyweights and significant investment opportunities. Dotterel is the first New Zealand based company to ever be accepted.

The three-month programme will be focused on technologies that can be used for defences and will be mentored by companies Boeing, Thales and Saab – the world’s three largest defence contractors.

Dotterel chief operating officer Shaun Edlin says that Dotterel has the potential to be ‘the Dolby of drones’ due to the technology’s wide ranging commercial applications, from cinematography, to surveillance, to search and rescue.

Callaghan Innovation’s C-Prize Challenge gives Kiwi innovators and entrepreneurs the chance to create technology solutions in a specific industry, with a $100,000 prize package up for grabs.

This year, entrants have been asked to create the next generation of wearable technology, with a focus on improving wellbeing and human performance.

Callaghan Innovation chief technology officer Chris Hartshorn says there’s been 92 entries so far, including 46 in the living healthier category, 30 in the working safer category and 16 in the playing smarter category.

Like Dotterel’s international success, Dr Hartshorn says the potential for wearable technology globally is huge.

Kiwi wearables company iMeasureU was sold for $3.5 million in June to Vicon, a British motion capture technology company.

This year’s finalists will be announced July 24.

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